Characteristics of a hepatitis C patient cohort at a specialized tertiary care facility: Identifying criteria to improve the allocation of public health resources
OBJECTIVES: Our objective was to analyze, in a population treated for hepatitis C infection at a tertiary care treatment unit, the prevalence of comorbidities and extrahepatic manifestations, the range and degree of the clinical complexity and the associations between advanced liver disease and clinical variables. METHODS: Medical records from chronically infected hepatitis C patients seen at a dedicated treatment facility for complex cases in the Infectious Diseases Division of Hospital das Clı´nicas in Brazil were analyzed. Clinical complexity was defined as the presence of one or more of the following conditions: advanced liver disease (Metavir score F3 or F4 and/or clinical manifestations or ultrasound/endoscopy findings consistent with cirrhosis) or hepatocellular carcinoma and/or 3 or more extrahepatic manifestations and/or comorbidities concomitantly. RESULTS: Among the 1574 patients analyzed, only 41% met the definition of being clinically complex. Cirrhosis or hepatocarcinoma was identified in 22.2% and 1.8% of patients, respectively. According to multiple logistic regression analysis, male sex (p=0.007), age440 years (po0.001) and the presence of metabolic syndrome (p=0.008) were independently associated with advanced liver disease. CONCLUSION: The majority of patients did not meet the criteria for admittance to this specialized tertiary service, reinforcing the need to reevaluate public health policies. Enhanced utilization of existing basic and intermediate complexity units for the management of less complex hepatitis C cases could improve care and lower costs.